Experimental composer and director Heiner Goebbels was born in Neustadt, Germany, on August 17, 1952, relocating to the Frankfurt area at age 20 to study music and sociology. He first achieved recognition in 1976 upon premiering a number of works, including Rote Sonne, Circa, and Improvisations on Themes by Hanns Eisler, most performed in conjunction with the Sogenanntes Linksradikales Blasorchester. Concurrently, Goebbels also collaborated with Alfred 23 Harth and, beginning in 1982, he served as a member of the longstanding art rock trio Cassiber. He further expanded his growing oeuvre with a series of theatrical, film, and ballet scores, and during the mid-'80s began writing and directing audio plays of his own, seeking his initial inspiration in the texts of Heiner Mueller. His theatrical and musical works have won numerous awards across Europe.
Goebbels signed a non-exclusive deal Manfred Eicher's ECM label in the mid-'80s. His debut, Der Mann Im Fahrstul, appeared in 1988. It was followed by Schliemanns Radio - 12 Protokolle in 1992 for the independent Der Hörverlag label. He returned to ECM with SHADOW/Landscape with Argonauts, with words by Edgar Allan Poe and Heiner Mueller, which appeared in 1993, as did La Jalousie/Red Run/Herakles 2/Befreiung, cut with Ensemble Modern. The three-disc Hörstücke, featuring recordings that took place between 1984 and 1990, saw release in 1995, as did the new work Ou Bien le Débarquement Désastreux. Black on White appeared from RCA Red Seal in 1997 and was the last work from Goebbels issued in the 20th century. Recordings of two his works have received Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Contemporary Composition.
In 2000, the debut of his first composition for symphony orchestra, Surrogate Cities, was released on ECM — it had been completed in 1994. In 2002, Eislermaterial was released in collaboration with Ensemble Modern and Josef Bierbichler. Landschaft mit Entfernten Verwandten followed in 2007. In 2009, his Italian Concerto was released by another independent, I Dischi di Angelica/ReR Megacorp. Goebbels returned to ECM with Stifters Dinge in July of 2012, two months before he received the Ibsen Award from the Norwegian Government for pioneering work in musical theater.